Diary of a summer scholar: Noelle Dumo

07 February 2018
Noelle Dumo

Noelle completed a Summer Research Scholarship on women's participation in the New Zealand energy sector with Dr Julie MacArthur.

This summer I had the privilege of working with Dr Julie MacArthur on her project on women's participation in the New Zealand energy sector.

My work over the summer involved reviewing relevant academic and 'grey' literature on the topic before narrowing my research to the New Zealand electricity industry. I also gathered statistics across the generation, transmission, distribution and retail sub-sectors of the industry.

The premise of my research was that New Zealand's transition to renewable energy will attract increasing investment in the coming decades as the 'greening' of industries becomes more and more important.

On equality principles, women and men should have equal opportunities to benefit from these investments, yet this is not the case. The gender inequality that persists in most industries is particularly acute in the energy sector, where women only have a 19 percent share of jobs in the industry.

Women in the energy sector also work disproportionately in office support or administrative jobs – 54 percent of these jobs are held by women. By contrast, women make up zero percent of industry CEOs, 32 percent of board of directors members and 11 percent of senior level staff, according to the World Economic Forum.

What was interesting about this project was that no academic research had been published on this topic in the New Zealand context. This made researching challenging because I had to look to the work done abroad for guidance on methodologies and statistical patterns, but it also made it very exciting because I felt like I was setting the groundwork for what will be an important contribution to this area of study in the future.

The experience of being a summer scholar was awesome! I have always been passionate about gender issues and environmental issues and this topic allowed me to look into both at the same time. I learned a tonne about an industry that I had never researched before and developed skills in researching topics that are relatively new and not widely written about.

It was also through this experience that I discovered a new path to consider after completing my BA/LLB this semester: research!

Julie was a great supervisor. She provided me with the guidance I needed to navigate what was, to me, an unknown topic, and was very open to me expanding areas of research. Working with her felt like a true collaboration where we learned from each other's findings and decided where to look next together.

My Summer Research Scholarship has been a very valuable experience. More than the things I've learned about the energy sector, I appreciate the skills I got to practise and the things I learned about the field of research.

Research involves plenty of creative thinking and I find it very gratifying, especially when the dots start to connect and it all makes sense.

Find out more about Summer Research Scholarships